Temporary plant shutdowns are a common way to make time for maintenance, housekeeping, upgrades, and other projects. However, they can create a work environment full of unfamiliar safety risks. This is why factory owners in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. need to be aware of some non-routine hazards during shutdowns and how to address them.
The first are hazards related to elevated work surfaces. When ladders and scaffolding are set up, certain fall protection guidelines must be met. Secondly, confined spaces normally get cleaned out during shutdowns but could endanger workers with a lack of oxygen or profusion of hazardous vapors. The same goes for pipelines, which can be filled with flammable gases or liquid even after they’ve been drained. Before anyone gets a hot work permit, pipelines should be tested for these elements.
Another issue is electrical. To avoid overuse of extension cords, plants often add new electrical wiring, and workers should be warned of the dangers present in exposed wiring. Next, factories may have machines containing hazardous energy, making it essential for workers to be trained on lock and tag procedures. Any lack of communication between workers, contractors, and project coordinators should be promptly addressed, and timelines and maintenance plans should be discussed.
Training is crucial to upholding workplace safety, so when its neglect either directly or indirectly causes an accident, the victim may have a viable injury claim. A lawyer could assess the situation and help the victim decide whether to file for workers’ compensation benefits or to sue the company on the basis of a reckless or intentional disregard of the safety of its employees.